STV’s Superior Journalism on Hospitals and Independence

Since the referendum in 2014 suggesting at least 45% of Scots wanted independence, Better Together’s own research showing that as many as 66% liked the idea if they thought it could be afforded and, recently, as support seems to be creeping past 50%, I’ve expected STV News to ‘smell the coffee’  and realise the commercial madness of continuing to report from a Unionist perspective.

I did observe a more balanced approach as early as the 2015 General Election. See this:

Click to access propaganda-or-professionalism.pdf

Last night, as I watched Reporting Scotland’s hatchet job on the Health Secretary and their avoidance, despite having 30 minutes to cover it in, of the large sample opinion poll showing support for independence at 52%, I decided to compare them with the STV broadcast at 6pm.

STV headlined the poll and gave it a measured response. It was by no means uncritically enthusiastic about the research or the findings, but they were essentially fair and on the problems with the new hospital, they were more professional and less tabloid.

Main points:

RS Headline: New fears about the new Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh are to be investigated.  

STV Headline: Health warning. Could parts of Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital be ripped down because of problems with its drainage?

The STV headline is undeniably melodramatic but does not imagine fears and is careful to accurately refer to ‘parts’ rather than to the whole building as RS are to do, below:

RS: A union official has warned the hospital might never open because of serious problems with the drainage systems.

STV: The Health Secretary is able to say forcefully that ‘nobody can say that it is either in or out as an option because nobody as yet is in possession of all the facts. That includes me!

The above comments from the Health Secretary are essential in understanding what the situation actually is, in sharp contrast to the frankly silly suggestion of ‘never opening’ and any decent journalist would recognise the need to foreground them. STV did and repeated them for emphasis later in the report but RS did not. They’re either stupid or deceitful.

RS go on to report:

  • £150 million pounds to build, a million and a half to run but no patients at Edinburgh’s shiny new children’s hospital.
  • ‘Some’ senior staff have told a ‘senior’ union official that the hospital might never open.
  • Labour and Conservatives are calling for further investigation
  • Professor Alan Dunlop has concerns over the way the contracts operate.
  • Sick children continue to be treated in a building more than a century old

STV continued with a fuller report but, notably, are careful to refer again to only parts of the building, perhaps, requiring to be ‘ripped down’ and to use the words ‘worries’ and ‘concerns’ rather than ‘fears.’ They also remind us of the Health Secretary’s insistence that the demands for a full public inquiry are premature and that it’s hoped a full safety review of the building will be completed by next month. STV do not allow Labour and Conservatives to hijack their report as RS did.

Perhaps most interesting was STV’s editing of the trade unionist’s comments. Rather than the RS approach of using him to generate fear about the hospital, STV choose this:

‘It’s a million and a half pounds of taxpayers’ money going to a private company for a hospital that we can’t get into. Surely we should be talking compensation for NHS Lothian.’

STV do allow Monica Lennon in at the end and repeat suggestions of pressure, but only ‘pressure’ on the Health Secretary and, critically, the reporter concludes with:

‘Those calls for a public inquiry, those are premature. She repeated today, we need to deal with the facts. She understands the frustrations of staff and the patients who should be using those services there. ‘


19 thoughts on “STV’s Superior Journalism on Hospitals and Independence

  1. Bugger le Panda August 6, 2019 / 9:47 am

    BBC reporting gossip and rumours as facts without a shred of evidence.

    That has to be a breach of their Charter?

    Can that be a basis of a private legal prosecution or is the BBC untouchable

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bugger le Panda August 6, 2019 / 11:09 am

      Serious question…..anyone?


    • Alasdair Macdonald August 6, 2019 / 11:45 am

      And, of course, they fitted in a bit about pigeon droppings and ‘fears’ at the QEUH in Glasgow, hung on to a report that a ward has been temporarily closed as a temporary measure because two children had been taken ill.

      From the very start of yesterday’s GMS – I was up and about when it came on – every item was a ‘SCOTLAND PURE BAD’ story. I suspect this was not by accident. They would have had notice of the poll and decided to ‘;throw a dead cat on the table’ (Mr Lynton Crosby’s tactic).

      Later in the programme there was a bit about the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and they said that they had tried to contact Ms Ruth Davidson and Mr Alister Jack for comments, but ‘neither was available’. Now there’s a surprise! However, they did have a live interview with Tory MP and arch opponent of Brexit, Mr Dominic Grieve. In the course of the interview, Ms Gillian Marles interrupted him, but immediately – within a fraction of a second – apologised for ‘interrupting you’! It is self policing. I have heard Ms Marles and Ms Hayley Miller immediately apologise to Mr Jackson Carlaw for apologising. However, interviewing any SNP or Green politician interruptions are a feature of the pieces.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alasdair Macdonald August 7, 2019 / 7:42 pm

        That will be the same editorial judgement which allows twice as many Tory MPs to appear on all BBC political programmes compared to all the other parties combined, and that includes the disproportionate number of appearances by Mr Nigel Farage.


  2. tcrosbie20 August 6, 2019 / 9:51 am

    Its just absolute gutter journalism, half truths and lies. Anything to emphasise the fear and negativity of any situation, and portray it as an SNP bad story, it doesn’t get any lower than this. The BBC in Scotland are a thoroughly disgusting organisation, no wonder there is a mass of people not paying the TV license fee, people know when they are being shafted. The first thing to do when Independence comes along is to get rid of the lying shower of reprobates.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Legerwood August 6, 2019 / 10:38 am

      Anything, in short, to blank out coverage of a certain poll.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Andy Anderson August 6, 2019 / 10:46 am

    My hope is that all bbc journalists will be barred from working with the new independent Scottish Broadcasting Service. Once a liar always a liar.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Legerwood August 6, 2019 / 10:52 am

    Talking of 100 year old hospitals perhaps worth mentioning this 200-plus year old hospital called Glasgow Royal

    “”Glasgow Royal Infirmary, which dates from 1794, was the only Scottish Hospital to make the Newsweek top 100 list, earlier this year, which included top facilities in Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United States. The hospital was also ranked in the UK’s top 10.””

    Report here from Evening Times:

    Strangely when the news first broke several months ago – April I think – it did not get much publicity. Can’t think why. Scottish hospital in top 100 of the World’s hospitals what’s not to like? The Evening Times (see below), The National and Glasgow Live seem to have been the only ones to cover the story.

    I guess the MSM did not think it was of interest since drains were not involved

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Bugger le Panda August 6, 2019 / 11:10 am

    Serious question…..anyone?


    • Legerwood August 6, 2019 / 2:43 pm

      Nope, no one is going to take legal action against the BBC because it is a law unto itself with the full backing of the state behind it.


    • Clydebuilt August 6, 2019 / 5:09 pm

      BLP rather than suing the BBC for poor journalism, Sue them when they flat out lie. Would be worth it IMHO win or loose.


  6. Ludo Thierry August 6, 2019 / 1:20 pm

    Meanwhile – actual fantastic life-saving type good news from NHS Scotland is ignored by ‘Scottish’ msm and carried only on the site: Link and snippets below:

    First annual statistics show success of new home test.

    The number of men being tested for bowel cancer is at its highest ever level in Scotland.

    In November 2017 Scotland became the first part of the UK to introduce a simpler home screening test for bowel cancer.

    Statistics for the first full year of the new home test’s use show 61.6% of men returned the test between November 2017 to October 2018 – compared to
    52.3% using the old test in the same period the year before.

    Importantly, there has also been an increase in testing by those in the most deprived areas – up from 41.7% to 51.7%. Uptake amongst those who had never participated before has also increased significantly from 7.8% to 18.9%.

    Overall the combined number of men and women doing the new, easier bowel screening test increased from 55% to 64%.

    The new Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) test requires the collection of just one bowel motion sample. It replaced the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which required people to return three samples over a 10-day period.

    Background: Scottish Bowel Screening statistics

    Healthcare Improvement Scotland has set a standard of 60% for Bowel Screening participation.

    In Scotland men and women aged 50 to 74 are invited every two years to take part in bowel screening.

    The Scottish Government introduced FIT in November 2017 to replace the FOBT.

    £5 million of funding from the Scottish Government’s £100 million Cancer Strategy is being invested in the national cancer screening programmes, including bowel, to encourage those who are eligible to take up their invite. This funding is targeted towards increasing participation in areas of deprivation and other areas where uptake is lowest.

    RECORD FIGURES all round – In any normal country this type of good news would be front page to try and encourage further progress and promote other similar ‘test’ programmes. In Scotland’s media (within the UK) – it’s just as if it never happened.


  7. Ludo Thierry August 6, 2019 / 5:10 pm

    Hi John – may I take an opportunity to ‘eat crow’ and confess that beeb Scotland correspondent Reevel Alderson has managed to sneak a really excellent article onto the beeb Scotland website concerning the brilliant news about the record uptake of the bowel cancer test kits. Reevel’s article is well worth a read. It didn’t appear until this pm and can’t help but wonder whether the long running scrutiny from John’s blog and similar sites is making it easier for the few remaining genuine journos at beeb Scotland (such as Reevel Alderson and Ken MacDonald) to argue to their editors that this sort of info should be carried on the website and on the broadcast news.

    I had made a criticism earlier today that the story was being ignored – so I am absolutely delighted to highlight that Reevel has corrected the beeb’s delay in covering a story that is a strong news item – and also happens to be an unadulterated good news story from NHS Scotland. What’s more, Reevel even manages to highlight the superior poo kit testing regime in Scotland (which is offered from age 50 years in Scotland and is offered at age 60 years in England).

    Who knows – hopefully I’ll have to make many more apologies to beeb Scotland as they start a new regime of daring to carry some more positive stories about Scotland’s public services – when there are strong stories to report (as there often are).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clydebuilt August 6, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      Ludo . . . . Often the BBC webshite has reasonsble journalism. My take on this is that folk who are prepared to make the effort to search out news are better informed, therefore no sense in the broadcaster serving up propaganda created for the ill informed. Such as tea time TV news.
      Same logic applies to channel 4 news and Radio 4 news.


      • Legerwood August 6, 2019 / 6:30 pm

        Clyde built,
        The BBC News dept. uses the website to cover their asses. If anyone complains about their broadcast output then they can say that it has been covered on their website and plead lack of time etc for omitting any report on the broadcast news or giving a 30sec or less coverage in a broadcast.


      • Gerry Robertson August 7, 2019 / 8:05 pm

        I agree but RS know perfectly well that for the dwindling number of older viewers that are most likely also Unionist voters either do not have access to their website or care not to bother but instead get this ‘fake news’ as presented to them on TV screens. The BBC use the website merely as a balancing act that they can use to fend off criticism of their news coverage. Disgraceful.


  8. Clydebuilt August 6, 2019 / 5:18 pm

    Its not often BBC Scotland raises my lood pressure but they managed it tonight when coverring the “Toxic Campus” at Coatbridge. The young propagandist said ” the local SNP and the council were branded Liars. So whilst listeners were not informed that it’s a Labour council responsible for the school campus the BBC still managed to chuck muck at the SNP.

    Liked by 1 person

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